Live Thoughts About ‘A Christmas Prince’

Not to brag, but I was an early adopter to A Christmas Prince. Before the insane amount of attention, I was just a girl, sitting in front of a screen, trying to decide how to spend my Friday evening. A new Netflix movie had released and I’m generally a fan of the Netflix content I’d watched, so I thought why not.

Man. Woof.

Here we are a year later, celebrating the long awaited sequel. Despite having watched the movie multiple times last Christmas season, I strangely hadn’t been back in the time since. Before diving into The Royal Wedding, I wanted to recapture the magic of those two days where our leads fell in love.

Let’s see how this goes.

To set the scene, it’s 6:30 on a Friday night and I’m naturally already in my pajamas (a nightgown saying ‘Let’s Sleep In.’ I only wear it when I can actually sleep in the next day). My dinner is beside me – a delicious plate of pizza bagel bites and macaroni and cheese. This will surprise you, but I’m actually an adult in my late 20s.

Please forgive the typos I inevitably make because I’m not editing this at all.

  • It’s starting but I realize I don’t actually remember how this movie starts
  • Ah yes, city at Christmas porn
  • “Ugly Christmas Sweaters of the Stars”
  • I forgot she’s a “real” journalist who’s stuck as a junior editor and getting rejected left and right. She’s probably not a good writer
  • No one cares about royalty from small countries. Also why would a celebrity magazine send her editor to cover this political matter just because of his ‘royal hotness’
  • That’s right. Every girl is recovering from a serious breakup that happened a long time ago but they still aren’t ready
  • The dad thinks it will be a big break but apparently he doesn’t know that no one cares about royal drama from non-existent countries
  • I do like that he’s not laying on the guilt trip because his wife is dead and he’s going to be alone for Christmas
  • I want someone to show me on a map where this country is. It has to be England adjacent because they all have English accents
  • Yeah the prince was selfish taking her cab but he was actually really polite about it so ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
  • Journalists grumpy because they’re covering a press conference that was supposed to feature a notorious flake of a prince. Are press actually this “ahhhh” and “ohhh”?
  • My favorite part about all these Christmas movies is when people are outside bundled up but they clearly aren’t cold. Do you know what happens when you’re outside in the frigid air? Your eyes water, your nose runs, and the wind is insufferable. It aint cute.
  • Wouldn’t you also ask her name instead of just saying it at her? Or saying she must be a tutor? I don’t know why I’m dissecting this dumb plot point
  • Mad that press is in town and call them parasites but you also called a press conference which means you invited them?
  • Prince Richard looks straight up homeless and not in a hot hipster way
  • So immediately we can tell Richard is not in fact a douche because he’s a great big brother
  • “Who are you and what are you doing in my palace?” Savage
  • I will say I like Richard more than the piece of cardboard who was in The Princess Switch which is surprising
  • Editor supporting this crime in a foreign country. Solid journalism.
  • “There’s nothing loose about this goose”
  • She freaks out at the mouse even though she said she liked mice to prove she’s *cool* but is clearly surprised and terrified to see it there
  • I keep saying she. I don’t know this character’s real name. Fake name Martha.
  • Why does Princess Emily know she’s from Minnesota?
  • Why does she assume she’s wondering what’s wrong with her? As an adult Fake Martha probably has her own assumptions and isn’t concerned about her wheelchair
  • Okay so Richard is doing archery in a garden three feet from a target. You can say you’re adjusting your sights but I know. Now you’re showing off your skills like you’re some master archer
  • I’ve already taken so many notes. This is exhausting.
  • When Fake Martha says “Awesome High Five” she sounds like a robot trying to express excitement
  • Her friends are the opposite of interesting and helpful
  • I just remembered she always wears Converse. You’re not an emo teenager from 2003, Fake Martha. Be an adult and wear real shoes. It’s annoying but also I’ll be disappointed if she doesn’t wear them to her wedding?
  • Also she’s the most obvious photo taker of all time. ALL TIME.
  • Okay so the more I see Prince Richard the more I genuinely enjoy him. In my defense, I’ve watched a lot of Hallmark Christmas movies recently so my bar is low.
  • Also this douche Simon is awful and overcompensating. Probably because his name is Lord Ducksbury
  • She is not blushing
  • “Where there’s a tiara, there’s dirt. Trust me.” Okay.
  • Let me obvious film Prince Richard playing the piano and no one will think I’m either an undercover creep OR I’m obsessed with the prince and I’m going to try to kill him
  • Lady Sophia is clearly the worst. Why is the queen trying to make fetch happen.
  • If he would’ve dropped her heart ornament I would’ve moved this movie to the top of my favorites list
  • Also Fake Martha’s journalism is about as good and thorough as this list I’m writing
  • Amber. Her name is Amber. Thank you Princess Emily
  • Where did these rumors about Prince Richard come from? Why do they exist if he is clearly boring?
  • Poor Richard gets interrupted every time he’s trying to get his Christmas piano playing on. Man just wants to be festive
  • I can tell this is a fake country because there’s no security around all these royals. Even Genovia gets security.
  • Why do these small countries always have quaint little orphanages? Why do orphans sell so well?
  • These adults are romantically romping about while poor Emily is just lying in the snow
  • Why are Sophia and Simon on a carriage ride? She clearly doesn’t like him or the cold. I mean I know it’s for the plot but it’s real dumb.
  • Amber’s notes again. Holy cow. It’s not surprising she gets so many rejection letters for freelancing
  • This horse chase sequence is entirely too long
  • The whole wolf scene. I forgot about it.
  • Richard’s sweaters also look hella cheap. Hopefully the costume budget increases in the sequel. Or maybe Old Navy sponsors Aldovia.
  • Do kisses get interrupted in real life like they do in movies? I get the horse neighs and maybe the moment passes, but don’t you still want to kiss? Maybe I’ve been single for too long but after the prince came back after checking on the horses, I’d be like I think we need to re-enter that moment.
  • If you found a scoop as big as this adoption I would not talk to my dumb friends over Skype. Also “this will make your career” because you lied your way into the palace and snooped and stole information. You will break a story but also not be a respected journalist.
  • Of course Amber sees the kiss but not the breakaway. OF COURSE.
  • Also, Sophia calls Amber a peasant. Are real royals that out of touch? Maybe it’s all the inbreeding. I assume in a place like Aldovia that tradition still runs rampant.
  • I HATE WHEN PEOPLE SAY LISTEN TO YOUR HEART IT ALWAYS TELLS YOU THE TRUTH. Hearts are notoriously stupid. Do not listen to them. Trust your gut. That strange feeling is always correct.
  • I guess you wouldn’t anticipate people coming into your room, but wouldn’t you lock your ID and the adoption papers in a safe somewhere? Seems much smarter to leave everything incriminating on the bed.
  • ALSO Richard falls in love with the very supportive Martha who’s really Amber trying to get details for her story. That’s betrayal.
  • That bracelet looks like something my mom brought me back from the Bahamas when I was 14. Granted, it’s from a little girl, but it falls into the category of things she’ll never wear.
  • I would give up all my wonderful Christmas Eve traditions to go to a Christmas Eve ball. Even Christmas jammies.
  • She looks good, but like everyone turn and stare good? It’s not like she was a hideous troll before. She’s always been very beautiful. She’s just in a dress with a lot of eyeshadow.
  • I like that a piece of drama isn’t Richard and Martha/Amber’s relationship. Clearly Queen Helena thinks it’s chill
  • They spent a lot of that dance swaying back and forth like it was a preteen dance at a firehall
  • I really need to pee
  • I want to be on the creative team who makes up these country names.
  • Simon and Sophia are just watching waiting to spill the secret and it’s super childish. Just shows they are garbage humans.
  • “This Fraudulent Christmas Prince” ROLE CREDITS
  • I feel really bad for Richard. His entire life just fell apart. He’s adopted. The woman he loves has been lying. Everything he believed was true is a lie.
  • WHY ARE THESE PEOPLE APPLAUDING SIMON AND SOPHIA AS NEW ROYALTY?! You just watched them publicly ruin your prince’s life and now you’re like aww this is nice. LIKE WHAT
  • They show so many shots of this statue in front the palace. It’s at least three or four. Always close ups. No wide shots.
  • I honestly don’t hate this scene between Richard and his mom where she explains everything. It seems like he’ll probably need counseling but it wrapped up nicely.
  • One thing I know for sure is Aldovia isn’t an international hub. Those United flights are a sham. You’re definitely flying a terrifying small plane to a major city in a real country.
  • We’re going to fight this by showing up and demanding it’s delayed even though we don’t have any law on our side and then just give up when we’re told we can’t change things.
  • At least these people in the parliament or whatever understand the travesty of this situation
  • How did the king amend a law without anyone else, including the Prime Minister, knowing?? I’m not a monarchy expert, but I feel like you would need at least a discussion about that.
  • Also he’s not blood but he’s a great guy so obvs he deserves to be king – Richard’s dad
  • I really really need to pee but I won’t pause now
  • Further proof Amber is actually a terrible journalist is she works for a horrible magazine and that was probably the only place she could get a job
  • She’s quitting to blog because that’s a completely lucrative way to make money
  • 20,000 likes and she doesn’t have ads. No one cares.
  • Oh wait she works at the restaurant. She has a job. My b.
  • Seven minutes from the end and I had to go to the bathroom. I was sure I was going to pee my pants. Made it, though.
  • I’m not a wine expert but that wine on the table looks like Kool aid
  • Okay so this prince isn’t on the sidewalk. He’s literally standing in the middle of a street
  • “Emily showed me your blog online” the online is redundant doofus
  • They’re still in the middle of the street
  • Okay like do you have to engaged? Can’t you just date?
  • You don’t have a career. You have a blog.
  • “We can come back whenever you want” UH I think you’ll be busy ruling your country
  • Granted, I would definitely say yes to him. He could walk into my apartment right now and if his first words to me were “marry me,” I’d say yes.
  • This ending just reminds that they watch this movie The Princess Switch and everyone is crying because it’s so beautiful. False. There are some makeup scenes that I live for because you can just tell both parties are incredible kissers. This is so-so to the max.
  • Now Netflix is just automatically rolling into The Royal Wedding. It didn’t even give me a choice.

That time Wonder Woman became my new favorite superhero

Like many people, I thought the first trailer for Wonder Woman looked really good. I loved the music and her theme that plays when the logo is shown at the end. But, like many people, I was hesitant to believe this one would be good.

Remember how we were fooled into thinking Suicide Squad would be good? To be fair, that movie should’ve been great, and I think there’s a great movie buried somewhere in it, but it’s really garbage. Even Batman V. Superman seemed promising, even through the opening scene showing Bruce Wayne’s perspective of the showdown from Man of Steel.

Essentially DC promises a lot but so far hasn’t delivered. Until now? We’ll see.

Basically the plot is simple. Diana (Gal Gadot) and the Amazons live in a paradise called Themiscyra where they endlessly train for the return of Ares because he wants to destroy the world and it is their sacred duty to protect it. One day, a plane crashes through the protective wall and Diana rescues the pilot – a very dashing Chris Pine – named Steve Trevor. The Germans are following him and bring a brief battle to the island, and while the Amazons win, it is not without casualties. Upon learning of The Great War (WWI), Diana realizes she most go and help, seeing as it’s likely Ares orchestrating everything.

Before I get into spoilers, I’m going to say this is the best DC movie so far. It wasn’t perfect, but it also wasn’t a steaming dumpster fire like the others. More importantly, I think it gives hope that this universe can be a good one, contrary to what its predecessors have tried to prove

Ok.

Spoilers.

Stop if you don’t want to know.

For a long time I rejected Wonder Woman being my favorite hero because it felt so on the nose for a feminist and also I hadn’t really seen a good Wonder Woman in my lifetime. Until now. Gal Gadot’s portrayal made her my favorite. Not only is she a total BOSS, she’s kind and empathetic. She believes in the good of humanity and more importantly, love.

Yes, I know the latter is a lesson she learns after great loss and her faith in humanity is understandably questioned, but it’s still there. Steve gives her perspective when telling her it’s not because people deserve being saved, because humanity doesn’t under any circumstances. But you still have to try.

As a Christian, I loved looking at the flaws of humanity and how yeah, we don’t deserve a savior, but it’s never a question of what we deserve, any one of us. That is the definition of our actual Savior and while obviously this movie (featuring Zeus mentions), doesn’t follow that route, I liked it nonetheless.

Quick thought but Chris Pine must have it in his contract to always randomly discover an out of place motorcycle he can ride. I’m not complaining, but it’s definitely a thing.

Now back to love. Diana easily has the best luck in meeting an attractive and brave man her first time out. I’ve been trying for years with no luck, but whatever. She had also never seen a man before, so maybe she deserved it more than me. Moving on. I really enjoyed how their relationship played out. There was obvious instant attraction, but the movie didn’t really shy away from it. She sees him naked and just looks and he just kind of owns it without quickly scrambling to cover up.

I think this is an important point because while the movie hit the points of propriety at the time, you never felt that between Diana and Steve. Diana was raised in a world where the women are warriors and hardly dressed and yeah Steve is respectful, but he’s also really cool with Diana not following the norms of his time.

The entire scene on the boat, where they discuss a lot about relationships and sex, was improvised, allowing the audience to feel the chemistry behind a genuine interaction.

After saving a village on the other side of No Man’s Land at the front, the townspeople are celebrating with their liberators and Steve decides to show Diana how to dance, or as she calls it, swaying. They share an intimate conversation about regular life and you can feel the heat between them. But not as much as what happens in the next scene.

You see a lot of actors on screen together who maybe make you feel the passion or maybe you feel it’s strange or rushed. That was not the case with Pine and Gadot. I think the movie did an excellent job of setting up their relationship without making it strange.

I nearly blushed at the passion they created.

It happens after the dancing. He walks her to her room where they’re staying and goes the walk out and shut the door. He looks back and she looks VERY expectant, but in too many movies this would turn into the male lead stumbling over his words, panicking and leaving. Honestly, it’s what I thought would happen.

Instead, he walks back in and closes the door behind him. He walks over to Diana and this is where my blushing began. You can just feel how badly they both want to be together. At first, they just stare at each other and do the face touching thing until finally and perfectly, they kiss. We don’t see what happens next, but it shows us the room from the outside and as adults we can assume what happened next.

Obviously, as I’ll discuss in a moment, time was of the essence for their storyline, but I still loved how it wasn’t so drawn out. In The First Avenger, Steve and Peggy play the will they won’t they game for way too long with stupid plot points separating them. They were two people who clearly liked each other and they went for it without worrying about one being in danger or complicating anything. Life is too short for excuses.

Sadly, they had to have their moment because Steve Trevor wasn’t going to make it through. This was one of the clearly telegraphed points found in Wonder Woman, but also a point that was clear as early as BVS. This world had scorned Diana by taking Steve, making her unwilling to step in again. Plus, he was mortal and as we learned, she was an immortal god so it would make certain things a little more complicated.

Early on there was speculation that maybe Chris Pine was actually playing Hal Jordan, or at least a Green Lantern character, which would help solve some of the problems with aging that might plague their relationship (I think). Part of me is sure we’ll see Chris Pine again, maybe as a descendant from Steve Trevor and this time he is Green Lantern, making him a part of the Justice League. His role in this movie was a big one, but it still seems strange to cast Chris Pine with no ongoing plans to use him, so we’ll see.

Anyway, back to his death. While Diana is fulfilling her destiny as the god-killer (turns out she wasn’t made from clay but an actual creation from Hippolyta and Zeus), Steve realizes he needs to fly the plane away and blow it up. He gives his dad’s watch to Diana, says he has to go and wishes they had more time. As he runs away he says I love you, words she remembers in the climax of her fight with Ares.

I’m tearing up writing this. I read spoilers so I knew how he would die, but it still made me cry in the movie. Just like I’m crying now. As you’ll learn, I want movie people to have happy endings. This life is hard enough and I need things to work out in my fictional worlds. It’s the same kind of sadness I felt watching Rogue One. When a movie properly crafts these relationships, you feel the loss.

As much as I enjoyed this movie and loved the characters, there were definitely points that were so obvious.

  1. Diana being the god-killer

It was clear based on all the comments from the Amazons that Diana was not like them and had a greater purpose. I did enjoy how they made it seem her birth was like one of her origins where she crafted from clay, only to learn she was the daughter of Zeus and Hippolyta, making her a god. I also loved when she called Ares brother right before destroying him.

2. David Thewlis being Ares

I don’t even remember his character name and I’m not going to look it up. As soon as I saw him softly arguing for peace, I knew. There’s no way you cast him for that kind of role. He clearly had a greater purpose. However I did enjoy the realization that he whispers the keys people need for war, like giving Dr. Poison the right formula

3. That German general not being Ares

Those gas pills Dr. Poison gave him were clearly just plot devices so Diana would think he was Ares because he was strong enough to fight him. Both things really annoyed me.

4. This movie was kind of The First Avenger

Different World War, same plot, down to discount Howling Commandos and sacrifice via plane by hero. Saying that, I enjoyed this one way more that the original Captain America film. I didn’t mind the similarities, but they were there.

5. Too much slowmo

Don’t get me wrong – I thought this was a cool effect to really focus on the incredible things the Amazons can do, but it just felt a little overused and back to back in certain scenes.

Most importantly, more than any complaint, I loved the statement this movie makes. Diana is from an island of strong women. Coming into our world in the early 1900s, she’s facing a world where women have little to no rights. Etta even makes a comment at one point about fighting for the right to vote. She distracts an entire meeting of men because she’s a woman and she shouldn’t be there. Despite the fact that she knows the languages to decode Dr. Poison’s notebook, the general still wants her to leave.

While the world is different now, women still face those kinds of situations where what shouldn’t be ridiculous is made that way by backwards people who don’t believe we’re actually equal. Diana doesn’t see anything other than people and it was a really beautiful thing.

One of the high points, praised by people all over, is when Steve is explaining No Man’s Land and how no man can cross it blah blah blah and she just throws off her dress and does it. This is her attitude all the way through, any time Steve tells her to stay. She’s Wonder Woman after all, why should she listen to some man? It was beautiful.

Let’s not forget all the women of Themyscira. I saw this pointed out via a tweet before watching which allowed me to notice it – when the women battle and kill, they live for it. Robin Wright Penn is SMILING in battle. Our other heroes are so hesitant to kill, but Diana and the Amazons don’t care. It’s what they do. I didn’t realize I needed a BA heroine storming into battle with a smile on her face, but now I do.

Most importantly, when this movie went into reshoots, Gal Gadot was FIVE MONTHS PREGNANT. They cut a hole in her costume and green screened her belly, but her being Wonder Woman five months pregnant is such a great representation for how tough women are I can barely stand it.

Basically, this movie made Wonder Woman my favorite and reinforced how incredible women are, a point rarely made in movies. Hopefully this is only the beginning of female heroes we can look up to.

Plus, I have a little more hope for Justice League. Maybe Zack Snyder learned from BVS and is giving this a lighter tone with a more sensible plot. I am cautiously optimistic.

Dirty Dancing: A painful recap

I am late to the party for this one, and I apologize. I just wasn’t sure if I wanted to actually watch this remake. All it took was the poster and the apparent lack of chemistry to be like

21651429

And then I saw the first trailer and switched my reaction to

giphy

And then Twitter confirmed all of my suspicions when it previewed last week, Wanting to witness the train wreck for myself, I forced myself to watch it. Boy, what a disaster.

There are two important points to start with: first, Dirty Dancing is one of my all time favorite movies. Second, I am not someone who cannot appreciate different versions of the same thing. For example, I can like books and the movie adaptations because they are two separate interpretations. This review isn’t because I’m a purist. It’s because this is garbage.

This is going to be all spoilers because most people know the basic plot of Dirty Dancing and I can’t be responsible for ruining a story that is decades old. Let’s start with what I liked.

  1. Lisa. I think Sarah Hyland was one of the only good things about this. Not only did I enjoy her performance and growth throughout the movie, this version of Lisa was for more enjoyable than the original. When she told Robbie to stay away from her and meant it – get. it. girl.
  2. Dr. Houseman telling Robbie he had to apologize and pay Penny back after what he did and threatening to sabotage his career if he did not. Classic, and nothing less than the creep deserved.
  3. Dr. Houseman being vulnerable in the boat. I HATED the divorce storyline, but I love a man who expresses his feelings.
  4. When Baby is yelling at Johnny through the door about how she sees him and knows he cares and suddenly he’s out of the door in passion and kissing her like the world is going to end and I was ALL IN

What didn’t I like? Basically everything else about this movie

  1. All the unnecessary exposition. Ever heard of show, don’t tell? This movie was like, ‘oh, you liked the way you weren’t spoon fed details in the original? too bad here’s everything obvious explained for the audience.” Like we knew Baby was the smart one based on her interactions, and we knew Lisa wanted the more ‘traditional’ things by her behavior.
  2. The divorce story. Dr. Houseman is a SAINT and I hate any retelling where he isn’t happy to spend time mindlessly dancing with his family.
  3. The music. How dare you disrespect the iconic classic ‘She’s Like the Wind’
  4. Abigail Breslin. Look, I really like Abigail Breslin. I love all that she stands for, but I’m not convinced this was the role for her.
  5. “Next time, carry your own watermelon.” what does that even mean, Johnny?
  6. The lack of good dancing. It’s a movie about dancing, yet the dancing is mediocre at best.
  7. Penny is too nice. Listen, Nicole S(can’t spell her last name) was a great Penny and highly enjoyable to watch. But I missed her harder edge in the original.
  8. Baby wasn’t even in a corner. I’m sure it’s a metaphor, but at least in the original she was in a real corner.
  9. Patrick Swayze made you believe in his insecurities, especially around classy women wanting him. I felt none of this from this actor.
  10. I’m going to stop at this one because it might be my biggest pet peeve and also I could blast this movie all night but I’m tired and it isn’t worth my energy. They don’t end up together. Yeah I know, this is an improbable romance. In real life they don’t las, but then again I don’t see movies because they’re like my life. We want to believe that Baby and Johnny stay together against all odds and I’m fairly certain that was the creator’s vision as well. If nothing else, they should’ve met at the show and she still be single or newly divorced or whatever and they hit it off again. He just looked sad.

Ok so actually one more bonus. The characterization of Baby was weird. You didn’t see her passion or spunk shine through at all. I missed her yelling at him. They made her seem so timid and quiet and I think that was a bad call, because the passion makes her character.

Save yourself the time and don’t see this. Please.

 

Manchester by the Lion or maybe A Long Way to Manchester by the Sea

Last night I saw two movies because the first left me so broken I needed a pick-me-up. Manchester by the Sea was the third great movie I’ve seen in a row, but it was also the third movie in a row where everything is sad and a little too real for my heart that longs for escapism.

I went into Manchester knowing it would be sad. Clearly Casey Affleck is tortured and struggling in the trailers and I know something horrible happened in his hometown of Manchester, causing his desire to take his nephew away instead of move back. In the words of my best friend, “I sobbed no less than six times. God.”

Casey plays Lee, a janitor for a company that rents apartments. He isn’t particularly personable, but you learn why later. He receives the call his brother has died, and returns home to take care of his nephew. Through flashbacks, we see the relationship between the brothers, Lee and his wife as well what led to the downfall of them all. We see them as Lee is tortured in different moments, presented with truths and struggling with the demons of his past. It’s quite compelling. Essentially, it is a story about how weird and deep love can be (also the words of my best friend) and the lasting effects of a truly broken heart.

Because my heart was broken, I wanted to end the evening on a brighter note. The theater was showing Manchester by the Sea, Jackie and Lion. I think I made the right choice with movie number two.

Lion (aka A Long Way Home) also explores the relationships that define us and our need to find out who we are and where we come from. Saroo, played by Dev Patel, is lost as a young boy in India and after months of surviving on his own is taken to a home for lost children and eventually adopted by a lovely couple in Australia. His life seems full and nice, but while taking a hospitality course in Melbourne, he suddenly remembers details of his life and is presented with a method to trace his way back home.

This one gave me major Slumdog vibes, and that’s not a bad thing. The young Saroo, played by the delightful Sunny Pawar, is so cute, even when he’s filthy and begging for food. Though we see him with his family for only a short time, the relationships established seem so real and touching that you feel his heartbreak at being lost. Also, Dev Patel is a total babe. I loved him in Slumdog, and I like him better with a little more meat on his bones and that luscious mane of hair. Before we get to the point that explains the name ‘Lion,’ I was convinced it was because of his hair.

Both movies are excellent and total awards bait. We see a tragic backstory and tortured present and a long lost boy tracing his roots back to his poverty-stricken village in India. What more can you ask for? I recommend both, but with the understanding that if you’re emotional, you should probably see Manchester and then do something cheery or have someone with you to hug.

Okay enough of this

Time for the real show and spoilers

HERE WE GO

I figured Lee had done something horrible that led to his self-imposed exile and separation from Michelle Williams. I picked that up from the trailers alone. I assumed, based on his alcohol consumption, he was in a terrible car accident while drunk and maybe someone died.

And then we meet his children in a flashback.

There is no indication he has children in the trailers. I was thrown. He had three, to be exact. Two girls and a baby boy. When they slowly revealed all of them and their happy little life, I panicked. This was not good. He lives in a one-room apartment in Boston now. Best case is he isn’t allowed to see his children because of what happened? Maybe he got drunk and was abusive? I don’t know, there isn’t a best case scenario.

Turns out, it was worst case scenario. All of the comments about his drinking were going to catch up to the story. That’s why I thought car accident. I wished for a car accident. Basically he was partying one night with all his friends at home like he frequently does, drinking and doing drugs, and decided to watch some TV after they left around 2 a.m. He lit a fire because it was cold and decided to go to the store for a few things, including diapers which we sadly see in the top of his bag. We learn he thought about if he put the screen up before he left, but decided it was fine and continued his walk. When he returned less than an hour later, the house was in flames.

He sees his wife screaming her kids are inside, but it’s too late. She was on the first floor and they pulled her out before the furnace blew, trapping the three children upstairs. Lee breaks down as they pull the body bags out of the wreckage and again we see the diapers in the bag, never to be used. His brother is right there with him, holding him up.

This was terrible, but I think the worst part was later at the police station where he’s telling the story, admitting to the horrible mistake he had made that killed his children. Because it was an accident, he’s free to go, and understandably this doesn’t sit well with him. Casey did such a great job conveying all these emotions while not over-selling it. You could tell he wanted to put away. He wanted punishment for what he had done. As he left the interview room, he pulls a gun out of a police officer’s holster and tries to shoot himself in the head before he is thwarted by the officers and his brother.

You can see the anguish in his eyes and perfectly understand his feelings. Watching his performance as he processed everything made you think yeah, that is what you would do. Also tragic: he has to see his ex-wife really pregnant with her new husband and they hug and all I could think was how sad was it for him to feel her belly and remember everything and see everything he lost.

One of my favorite details from the movie was the three photos Lee took from his apartment in Boston and brought to Manchester. We never see them outright, but it’s clear they’re his children, his only external reminder of the love and joy he once knew.

The ending was unsatisfying for me because Lee realizes he can’t stay because he can’t beat this and he doesn’t want to take his nephew, Patrick, away. Always the optimist, I wanted Lee to confront his demons and become a guardian again with Patrick and begin to heal. Instead we get a real look at the brutal honesty of love and heartbreak and making the hard choices you know are right.

This drama packed its humorous moments as well, particularly in most of the character interactions. They were all very stereotypical Massachusetts residents, throwing the ‘f’ word around and yelling over each other constantly. It added levity to a very heavy movie.  

Okay so now Lion or A Long Way Home, depending on who you ask. I like that this story was told chronologically, not through flashbacks. I think flashbacks can be effective, but sometimes it’s nice to watch the story unfold in a linear way. This movie was well-acted all around, and filled with the word ‘mate’ because it was very Australian.

Both Dev Patel and Nicole Kidman are nominated, and I think one of those makes sense. Dev is engaging and you can see his slow decline to madness and how haunted he is by his desire to let his family know he’s fine. Nicole, who plays his adoptive mother, is great, but I wasn’t like wow this performance is award-worthy. If she wins, she did a good job, so I won’t complain.

What else can I say about this movie? It was very touching and sad and again reminded me of some of the horrible things that go on around the world. The worst part, I think, was learning his beloved brother Guduu had died before he made it back. In fact, he died the night Saroo got lost. He was hit by a train after he left his brother to find work and was never going to return. In a way, getting lost eventually saved Saroo, even though it was a long journey home.

See what I did there?

Quick thoughts

  • Didn’t Michelle Williams get burned up with her family in Shutter Island? Her affinity for tragic fires is like Rachel McAdams’ for time traveling husbands
  • Casey Affleck, let me save you.
  • Everyone always looks so cold in this movie. Never moving to New England.
  • This movie is trying to break my heart. It’s official.
  • Why are Christians always portrayed so weirdly in movies? We don’t all wear our Sunday best to dinners. We are normal people. I don’t care if you say Amen after we pray for our food.
  • I feel like Patty’s storyline with his mom wasn’t fleshed out enough. We clearly learn it isn’t a good fit for him, and that he fiancé is crazy, but we see a glimmer of her current unstableness. Did she go to the kitchen for a drink? I NEED ANSWERS
  • How did Patrick balance both those girls, and why did he bother with Sylvie in the first place? She seemed like the worst and Sandy seemed great because she wasn’t trying to protect his feelings.
  • Do Australians really say ‘mate’ this much or is it simply something we Americans assume they do? Kind of like shrimp on the Barbie? I don’t know, but I like Australians
  • Dev Patel has nicer hair than me. I would kill for his hair.
  • I’ve never wanted to go surfing but seeing him in that surf suit makes me want to try
  • I’m focusing a lot on Dev’s appearance so yeah his acting is great too

 

Rogue One and the time I left the theater crying

When I first heard about the expanded Star Wars Universe on top of the new trilogy, I was STOKED. I love all the intertwining stories and couldn’t wait to see backstories expanded. In a good way, though, not the terrible prequel way.

Rogue One, however, suffered what I like to call ‘Captain America fatigue’ for me. Information and trailers kept trickling for so long it reached a point where I lost interest. It wasn’t as bad as The First Avenger, where the trailer was released A WHOLE YEAR in advance, but in a similar way my excitement waned.

I purchased my Force Awakens tickets the day they went on sale and arrived at the theater early to guarantee a good seat among my fellow nerds. I even took Chinese food and a book with me to entertain myself in line. I was all in.

For Rogue One, however, I waited and waited. I heard good reviews and my friends loved it but I couldn’t muster the enthusiasm I needed to actually take the time to see it in theaters. Finally, under the lure of reclining seats, I decided to go after a late shift at work.

Briefly, it was great. Yes, a lot of it is rushed and you might find yourself missing character development, but overall it flows nicely. Even though you know the mission is successful (A New Hope is based on its success), you still feel the tension throughout. Most importantly, it intelligently answers one of the biggest questions in the Star Wars Universe and that makes it worth your time.

Felicity Jones continues the delightful trend of Star Wars featuring incredible female leads who are tough and independent. Her Jyn Erso fits well with Princess Leia-turned-General Organa and Rey. Diego Luna plays Cassian Andor who shows you the less glamorous side of the rebellion that feels very real and adds weight. I’m trying to think of other people to talk about but they all feel like spoilers so I’ll just move there.

DO NOT READ BEYOND THIS POINT

FOR REAL

HERE WE GO

Basically, Rogue One should’ve been called the one where everyone dies. I had a suspicion in the back of my mind this might be the case, but I wanted to be wrong. If they lived, surely they would’ve shown up in the original trilogy. You can’t steal the Death Star plans and then disappear away from the rebellion. They probably would’ve received medals with Han and Luke (not Chewie for some reason although he was there too) for their involvement in stalling the Empire.

I figured one of the temple guarders would go, but when they both went minutes apart from each other, that’s when I knew. I thought Chirrut’s last reminder of being with the Force would carry Baze to survival and he would continue to spread the word about the Force, but nah. He’s mowed down a few feet away after taking down a few more people.

Maybe the defector cargo pilot, Bodhi, would live but I never thought he would. I assumed he would die some valiant way showing his true dedication to the rebellion after being a part of the Empire. No, he makes communication happen (very important) and then someone throws a grenade where he is and he looks sad.

All of this to say, I appreciated the realness. Sometimes too many main characters live when everyone dies and if a main character dies, there’s weight to the sacrifice. Perhaps this is the strongest selling point. Yes, everyone dies, but they’re on a suicide mission and they severely tick off the Empire who now possess a weapon that can destroy planets.

With most villains, they talk too much and give the good guys a chance for escape. In Star Wars, the Death Star takes an entirely too long to prepare itself almost as if it read the script and knew how long it needed to take so everything worked out for the best. In the final blow to the planet that kills all the characters we’ve spent two plus hours rooting for, Governor Tarkin doesn’t hesitate. He simply says destroy the city and boom the Death Star is powered and up the city goes.

I cried as Jyn and Cassian embraced on the beach because IT WASN’T FAIR DANGIT! They’ve had hard lives! Give them some happiness together! But I also felt in that moment, they were comforted by the presence of the other, and recognized the weight of what they had just done. I scurried out of the theater so no one else saw me crying because I was a little embarrassed. After this and La La Land, I just need to see two people who love each other can be together OKAY?!

Sorry.

Mads Mikkelsen played Galen Erso, Jyn’s father. I was sure he was going to be bad because I didn’t think Mads Mikkelsen could play a good guy but I was wrong. He defects from the Empire, only to be found again. Eventually General Krennic (Ben Mendelsohn), whose power climbing annoyed me and Vader the whole time, finds him and kills his wife. She went down like a BA though, telling him he would never win and refusing to be quiet. Jyn sees this and runs until she is safe, but Galen is taken and forced to create the Death Star.

This brings Jyn into the fight, after she avoided it for years. Her apathy is exchanged for passion as she helps in the search for her father and his secret message. I’ll skip through a lot because here is the exciting part – they are the reason there’s a weakness in the Death Star and people know about it! Ever wonder how the rebellion knew the one weak point and how to find it? Galen put it in and told his daughter how it could be destroyed, even calling the secret plans Stardust (his nickname for her), so she could find them. So haters, be quiet. It all makes sense now.

There were a lot of great moments, including K2 trying to say “I have a bad feeling about this” but being quieted by Cassian and Jyn. I particularly enjoyed the Vader moments, especially seeing he lives on the planet where he basically lost all his limbs and has to spend time in a recovery tank. It’s interesting because for someone so powerful, our old pal Anakin is also pretty weak. He also sees through Krennic’s BS and calls him out with the best dad joke about choking on his ambition WHILE force choking him. Classic.

When we see him again, he’s coming for the rebellion to stop the plans from falling into the right hands. He lands on a ship and you see why everyone was afraid of him, not just because he mowed down all the child Jedis like a real coward. He’s throwing people and swinging his lightsaber and yeah he’s on the bad side but HE’S SO COOL. You see the poor people on the ship desperately passing off the plans from person to person as they are all killed until finally it lands in the hands of our dear Princess Leia as she escapes Vader and perfectly segues right into A New Hope. She literally says the plan gives them hope which is like the perfect segue as I said.

So all in all, pretty great. Very sad. It’s probably good there wasn’t a lot of character development because it was hard enough watching all of them perish with minimal knowledge. It was a very real story that I loved in a world where the good guys always make it out relatively unscathed and everything is great now. It kind of parallels well into The Force Awakens where we see how broken these people are.

Quick Thoughts:

  • They flash to a lot of different planets in the beginning and all I could think is am I supposed to remember these? They can’t possibly expect that
  • Governor Tarkin looks like Jim Carrey in that animated Christmas Carol movie and that is not a good thing. Just recast. Fans of the series will understand and no one else will even notice.
  • I thought Leia looked pretty great though.
  • When I first saw Jimmy Smits at the rebel base I was like maybe he wasn’t on Alderaan when Vader blew it up but then fatefully he says he’s going back and I had to resist shouting ‘no’ in the theater
  • Jyn has really practical hair. I appreciate that in a female character. Star Wars is great with practicality.
  • Did Cassian shoot that other guy in the rebellion so he could get away? What a rough gig
  • I really didn’t think our pilot friend Bodhi friend was going to have any significance past delivering the message. I thought Saw would kill him. I’m pleased I was wrong. Riz Ahmed is delightful and I hope he wins the Golden Globe.
  • Why can’t people get beamed up in Star Wars? They have holograms. I know it’s a Star Trek thing, but beaming would be really helpful and maybe Jyn and Cassian could live happily ever after. Maybe only in my mind. It’s fine.
  • Jyn is climbing a lot in this movie. Her arms must be really sore. She must be pretty strong.